The meeting today between Obama and Al Gore is raising some eyebrows, particularly as it comes a day or two before Obama announces his energy and environmental team. Will Gore be part of that team?
Also, the debate over Caroline Kennedy continues... some love the idea and some hate it.
And, the State of Illinois cuts off business with Bank of America until the issue with Republic Windows and Doors is resolved.
How I would love to be a fly on the wall at this meeting! Lots of speculation last night and this morning about themeeting today between Obama, Biden and Al Gore:
The news that President-elect Barack Obama will huddle with the man who used to be the next president of the United States -- Al "The Goreacle" Gore -- has set tongues a-flapping in Washington about the possibility that the former Tennessee Senator might join the new Administration in some sort of role.
CQ Politics reports that Obama will announce his energy and environmental team on Wednesday or Thursday. Hmmmm... the timing is interesting. Perhaps Gore will be named as the head of a new National Energy Council?
Also possible is the announcement of a new White House office of energy or climate change, perhaps in the form of a new National Energy Council on par with the National Security Council. The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank which is advising the Obama transition, has recommended the creation of such a council, headed by a White House-level energy or climate czar.
All this speculation could be overblown, and maybe Obama just wants to discuss his energy and environmental choices with Gore before they are announced. But...
"The Gore trip is for more than just a chat," a close friend of Gore told CNN's John King. "He wouldn't burn that much carbon flying to Chicago just to talk."
Jane Hamsher's post at firedoglake about Caroline Kennedy has set off a debate on the blogs and in the media. Kos wrote yesterday that he agrees with Hamsher that it's not a great idea. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo feels the same:
But I think Jane Hamsher's right about this. Appointing Caroline Kennedy to serve out Hillary's senate term is just a bad idea.
Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post likes the political imagery of the whole thing:
She is the last survivor of her immediate family; she reveals herself only in the measured doses of a person who has always been, will always be, in the public eye.
Then, deciding that Obama is the first candidate with the inspirational appeal of her father, she chooses to abandon her previous, above-it-all detachment from the hurly-burly of politics. I know it's an emotional -- dare I say "girly"? -- reaction. But what a fitting coda to this modern fairy tale to have the little princess grow up to be a senator.
But, she also says:
More unsettling, political dynasties are fundamentally un-American. This is not -- or is not supposed to be -- a country in which political power is an inherited commodity.
Meanwhile, Mark Nickolas, the editor of Political Base, thinks the criticism of Kennedy is overblown:
Nevertheless, despite the remarkable life that Caroline Kennedy has lived...despite her Harvard undergraduate degree and Columbia Law School degree...despite her being an attorney, an editor, and a published author...despite that our next president trusted her to co-lead his search for a vice president...despite coming from one of the greatest families ever to serve in the United States Congress... we have to sit and listen to members of this Beltway fraternity (and sorority) bluster that she might not be qualified to become 1 of 100 in the Senate. Seriously?
I don't think many would argue that Caroline Kennedy couldn't be a good Senator. I think she could. But, since she's never run for public office before, I would much rather see her campaign and win an election than be appointed. What do you think? It seems that Kossacks are pretty evenly split based on Bill in Portland Maine's poll yesterday...
Reaction to Shinseki continues this morning and pretty much everyone has something nice to say about him. The Boston Globe editorial board calls General Shinseki a "truth teller" for the VA:
The choice is a stinging rebuke not just of Rumsfeld and President Bush for failing to take Shinseki's advice on the Iraq war, but also of the administration's weak effort to solve the medical, educational, emotional, and employment problems that veterans are having in returning to civilian life.
“You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader,” General Shinseki said at the time of his retirement in 2003. “You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it.” Those words were a rebuke to the Bush administration. It is heartening to know that the man who spoke them has been chosen to lead the agency charged with caring for America’s veterans, who deserve far better treatment than the country has given them.
When is Obama going to announce his pick for Interior? I am very anxious to find out if it's going to be Grijalva. The Tucson Citizen reports that over 100 environmental groups sent a letter to Obama's transition team backing Grijalva for the position:
In a letter dated Dec. 8, the groups praised the Tucsonan's longstanding dedication to environmental protection. Highlighted was Grijalva's work to develop the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which protects more local species than does the endangered species list.
"We believe that congressman Grijalva's demonstrated strength in navigating these sensitive issues and his commitment to science-based decision-making will serve the Interior well," the letter says.
Many in the media are claiming that a deal is close to being reached on the auto industry between Congress and the White House. But most reports downplay the fact that there may still be issues in getting enough votes to push it through Congress, especially if Republicans view it as politically unpopular. The AP mentions it very briefly at the end of its article:
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., a key ally of the auto industry, said getting the roughly 15 Republicans needed to support the plan was an uphill battle. "This is a real hill to climb even if we can get agreement between the White House and congressional leaders," he said.
Even sympathetic Republicans weren't ready to sign on. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, has "numerous concerns" about the bill, including the strength of the taxpayer protections and the role of the car czar, said spokesman Chris Paulitz.
The workers of Republic Windows and Doors are getting more high-level support, this time from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he will order all state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America Corp. because of the closing of a Chicago manufacturing company.
I have no idea how much business the State of Illinois does with Bank of America, but this should light a fire under BoA, huh? Kind of a PR nightmare for them. Critics say that Blagojevich's actions represent a "dangerous trend of politicians meddling with commerce."
And, I also read this morning that the owners of Republic Windows and Doors have recently purchased a manufacturing plant in Iowa under the name Echo Windows and Doors, a company that was created two weeks ago. Things that make you go hmmm...
The Los Angeles Times covers the story through the lens of the disconnect between Main Street and Wall Street:
Here, in this corner of the recession, the standoff between the workers and Bank of America has quickly evolved into a symbol of the divide between the financial rescue plans for Wall Street and Main Street.
When they heard the news, some workers were furious. Others cried. Rangel panicked. His wife had been sick for weeks and had recently seen the family physician.
"I got a call from the doctors. The insurance company said they won't pay because the company canceled all our policies and didn't tell us," Rangel said. "I have a mortgage. I have a child. What do we do if he gets sick?"
Man oh man, these birth certificate people are craaaaaaazy. And that is probably putting it mildly. Mike Madden has a pretty humorous look at the press conference following the SCOTUS decision on the whole birth certificate non-controversy:
Throughout the press conference, the conspiracy theorists had trouble keeping things focused. Harlem minister James David Manning wandered off on a tangent about how Obama's election still means "there's never been a black womb" that produced a president. Manning might have seemed like he was making a case against Obama based on some theory of black nationalism, except that he admitted he had endorsed John McCain in the campaign. That was after he had called Obama "this usurper, this long-legged mack daddy."
Taitz -- the lead attorney in the case the Supreme Court declined to hear Monday morning -- kept making stranger and stranger assertions. At one point, she asked why the government had fined broadcasters for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," but didn't intervene to force the media to report on Obama's allegedly phony birth certificate. She claimed Obama holds passports from at least four countries, compared him to Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, equated the "controversy" about Obama to Watergate, and finished her tour-de-force presentation by saying that if Obama can claim he's a U.S. citizen and win an election, then so could just about anyone. "If a person can become a presidential candidate only based on his own statement," she said, "then somebody like Osama bin Laden, theoretically, can come and write a statement, 'I'm eligible,' and we should put him on the ballot, too?"
Wow, I had no idea that Osama bin Laden had a birth certificate certified by the state of Hawaii! Yikes. That is a lot of craziness right there.
So what's on your mind this morning? I am pondering the word "czar" and what it would take for us to abolish it from the political vocabulary. There is way too much talk of "czars" today - from speculation that Al Gore may be "energy czar" to reports of a "car czar" for the auto industry. It must be stopped!